“We’ve learned from (Human Trafficking) survivors that approximately 87% of them were seen by health care providers while they were under the control of their traffickers, and 63% had been to the emergency department. These statistics show that, with training and supporting intervention programs, hospitals and their staff have a unique opportunity to identify victims and give them not only the care they need, but also the resources to break away from their captors."
- Sherri Mason, MSN, FNP-C
Over two years, Christy’s Cause worked in partnership with Lee Health, Florida Gulf Coast University professors and students, and the Office of the State Attorney to update existing human trafficking policies. The new policies were adopted in the fall of 2017 and Lee Health has already shown increases in victim identification. The team researched best practices in the field and interviewed agencies to better understand the services available. After investing 125 hours of work, two clear policies were created to help Lee Health staff identify and treat potential victims: 1) Minor and vulnerable adult and 2) Adult. Algorithms were created that match written policies to give staff a clear, concise picture of the written policies. The update was initiated by Lee Health Emergency Room nurses, whose goal was to prepare staff to better identify and treat victims of human trafficking and help them get the resources they need to break away from their captors.
Coincidently, the team developed a training piece for health professionals to identify, assess, and respond to human trafficking in the healthcare setting called WeCare. We successfully launched the training at the Human Trafficking Symposium at FGCU and have presented at numerous locations to hundreds of nurses. We continue to receive requests for the WeCare training from hospital departments, clinics, and universities.
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